Ahead of Saturday’s reunion at Bramall Lane, current Cobblers boss Rob Page has paid tribute to his predecessor Chris Wilder, now in charge at Sheffield United.
After leading Town to a glorious Sky Bet League Two title win in May, Wilder decided his future lay away from Sixfields, and after a brief dalliance with Charlton Athletic, was lured to his hometown club.
After a difficult start that saw the Blades languishing at the wrong end of the league one table after half a dozen games, Wilder has turned things round in south Yorkshire and his team go into Saturday’s clash with the Cobblers in second place, just a point behind leaders Scunthorpe United.
Wilder has been keeping things low key this week with regards to coming up against his former club, but he is sure to get a warm reception from the 1,500-plus travelling Cobblers supporters - until the game starts at least!
Those supporters will not only remember the fact Wilder rescued the club from relegation out of the Football League back in 2014 and the superb success on the pitch last season, but also how he steered to safety what looked to be a sinking ship during the financial woes of the autumn of 2015.
Page, who is friends with Wilder, is expecting the Cobblers fans to acknowledge the efforts of their former manager, and says that would be fitting.
“I know Chris really well, and what he has done for this football club, for our football club, has been unbelievable, him and Alan (Knill),” said the Cobblers boss.
“He deserves an enormous amount of credit, and it will be great to see him, but as I have said it’s down to business.
“We will shake hands before the game, no doubt we will have a beer after the game irrespective of the result, but for the 90 minutes we are going to be trying to win that game of football.
“Chris did ever so well for this club, in troubled times as well before Kelvin Thomas came in as chairman, and he deserves an enormous amount of credit for that.”
Joining Wilder on leaving Sixfields for south Yorkshire was assistant manager Alan Knill.
The former Bury and Rotherham boss was an integral part of the success enjoyed by the Cobblers last season, and in particular for his inventive free-kick routines, such as the one that led to John-Joe O’Toole netting in the 4-3 win at Luton Town.
There were others as well, and they are something that Page is aware of and the Cobblers will be prepared for on New Year’s Eve.
“I have heard Alan will watch Scandinavian football, and Japanese football, where he gets all these set-pieces,” said the Town manager.
“I have seen a couple from last season that he did, so we will mindful of that.
“I have watched Sheffield United in a couple of games now, I watched the Coventry game and the Oldham game, and we know he will have something up his sleeve, but we will be prepared for that.”